So up to the spa for the hot stone massage. I’m trying to keep the complaints and annoyances to a minimum on the blog, and save it for a short story, or rather short stories, but this was only a hot stone massage in a very light way. I’ve had them several times and am used to stones cradling my spine, and down the center of my chest, in between each toe and in each hand, in addition to more. I have never before this been cold during a hot stone massage. But she used only maybe 6 stones altogether and mostly gave me a massage and told me I should do at least twice a month at home. I wanted to ask her if she would pay for it. The massage 50 minutes cost close to $150 US. They build the gratuity in so that includes tips, but this lady didn’t have very strong hands either so the end result was it did help my back and neck, and the congestion/pollution in my chest but was disappointing as a hot stone massage. They let me use the spa facilities free since it was after 7 when I finished and they are open till 10pm. And it was nice because I was the only one in there so I had the ladies hydrotherapy pool to myself looking out at the ocean for about an hour. Peaceful. Think it is one of the few places without music, or if there was music it wasn’t obtrusive. I then went into the buffet area and had a salad before heading off to bed.
4/7 Malta. What do you know about Malta? I knew nothing other than the name of the country. It’s an island apparently between Sicily and Tunisia and they have their own language. Apparently got bombed over and over during the war. Not sure how big the island is, but we got to see a great deal of it on the $99 jeep tour.
Approx 4-5 hours riding down the road with my stateroom mate, and two lovely WWII vets and structural engineers, both widowers , brothers, who had just scattered his wife’s ashes in the north of Scotland that she loved. They are from Swansea Wales and they were very charming and good company. Graeme and Ron. They don’t speak welsh. Both have kids and grandkids- and my sense is this trip was a way to get away from all the well meaning family and have a moment to them.
It was chilly but I had my jacket and a scarf and I was warm so other than getting completely windblown, it was magical. Up and down dirt roads, in between stone walls like the hedges in England, winding roads, oops, another car. Up on top of a hill looking down at the gorgeous warm stone buildings and churches, and at terraced farms, thousands, if not millions of stone walls and terraces, I saw strawberries, onions, lots of grapevines and I think some tomatoes under plastic- still too early. Squash or cucumbers. Heard later that some was tobacco but I don’t know what that looks like.
We got off the boat and into the jeep around noonish, so it was siesta time, and there was hardly a soul in site during the entire tour, kind of creepy actually. Where is everyone? The roads were narrow and usually one lane each way so maybe this is the only way the tourist thing works, most of the shops were closed, they don’t take US dollars and I didn’t bring a credit card along, so a cheap shopping day so far.
We stopped at some beach resort for snacks, and the food choices were sketchy so I ordered a beef pie. It was cold, potatoes and dried beef I think. The first bite was awful, but by the third it was OK and filling, and I managed to eat about ½ of it. My stateroom mate took one bite and went to order something else.
Our jeep driver is a tiny little man with a raggedy smile and tons of tattoos on his hands. Looks like an old fisherman. Speaks very little English but is very enthusiastic and careful to say the name of all the places we stop and pass through very slowly. Several times. I think that is all he knows. Happy and helpful, made a gesture to show he knew I was tall (surprise surprise).
I heard several people talking about Popeye and pirates and had no idea what they were on about, but it turned out to be the set from the Robin William’s Popeye movie, with those funny little houses that look a little lopsided and like an illustration. On a tiny cove with gorgeous water several shades of blue. Now I understood when our guide kept saying rahhbeen wihlem, robinwilliam robinwilliam. There are restaurants there now, but it’s mostly just a movie set left behind. I’d love to own that little cove. Spectacular view.
Back on the road and then to the Mdina an old walled city. It was beautiful, has obviously been restored, and has some 250 or so people (I think) who actually live there- families passing down the property generation to generation.
Only a few shops, art glass, crocheted things, souvenir kinds of stuff, I bought a scarf probably made in China, and a tiny piece of art glass disk on a gold beaded necklace. Really not shopping, also a few restaurants but not time to eat. Nice to walk around in the sun down the streets.
Back in the jeep and through more little villages, people beginning to wake up from siesta, a few farmers working in the fields, but the only place we saw kids was at the first stop beach resort. Maybe they are all in school? I’ll have to read up more about Malta when I get home. I’d like to come back when it’s not tourist season and wander around. Not a lot to do, but I think it would be peaceful and beautiful.
Driving back to the ship, we passed members of our group, walking back from the town as we sped by on our wild jeep ride. This was good value. Back through security and on the boat. Tried to run a brush or comb through my hair really tangled and blown to death for hours, so pretty trashed looking.
Went to the tapas and wine bar for dinner - $15 cover. Mexican food. Quesadilla cheese, tortilla soup, beef fajitas. I could barely eat any of it. You can picture the tacky Mexican rice and gummy version of refried beans. They gave me a free frozen margarita. I ordered bass ale but could barely finish it. I may have actually lost weight on this trip. 12 days is a long time. Back to the room and to bed.
4/8/10 Last day on the boat yeah! All day at sea, our group has a gift exchange at 5pm then we are on our own. I slept in as long as I could sharing a stateroom, and tried to pack for Morocco and for the bag that is going to the hotel, and kept getting confused with the piles so will have to take a second look later today.
Finally went downstairs and grabbled a little bite to eat- forgettable, then went into the internet café to see if I could print our an boarding pass for royal air maroc, but no luck. I am going to have a wake up call at 545 and sprint downstairs and be one of the first off the boat and to the hotel to drop off the big bag, then make it to the airport and then cruise till I get to Marrakech tomorrow evening at 6:10pm morocco time. I need to check to see if there is another time change in the morning so my plan goes smoothly.
Then I went into the main lounge and had a latte. Ps the only beverage free is plain coffee tea or iced tea. Every other beverage has a price on it outside of the restaurants. They sell 6 packs of bottled water as we disembark at every port, for I think 21 Euros. You have to have it though so the price is not a point of discussion. We still have one bottle of wine left, which neither of us wants, so we’ll probably leave it for the staff also.
I started this in the main lounge, and then stood in line to cash some traveler’s checks and change some US dollars into Euros so my transition tomorrow with cabs and everything will be easier. I then went and had a burger for lunch, and headed back to the room where I am now sitting on the bed finishing this up before our group gift exchange. May try to do the repacking thing since my stateroom mate scooted a few minutes ago so I have a little space.
Oh sh xx## I closed the safe and entered some number that wasn’t the code and wasn’t my home atm code either so I can’t open it. It’s 15 minutes until the group gift exchange and I have to call security. They say 10 minutes, hope they are fast! Yep they were in and out in no time and I was careful to use the right code so my stateroom mate doesn’t have to go through it again. I’m pulling out everything tonite so when I get the wake up call at 545 am all I have to do is put my clothes on, brush my teeth, pull a brush through my hair and head down the elevator. And I’m on my on again. Small note- thank god.
So the group gift exchange was cute. Some of the women I never saw at all during the entire trip., I bought this royal blue crocheted shawl with sparklies on it for my person. I got a shawl, some earrings and a bracelet from mine. The group is really lots of little groups, some friendly, some a little snobby, some very politically correct and then there is me
Now sitting in the lounge listening to guitarist doing cat stevens father to son , one of my favorites . Drinkin a glass of cab and some ice water, using up the rest of my internet minutes since there is no credit back.
I’ll expand on the blog, add photos, correct wrong IDs and more when I get back. I’ll write stories on the rest, not for public viewing, but possibly publishing sometime with the names changed to protect the innocent, or retaliatory.
Suffice it to say, the trip was interesting. Saw some places I’ve always wanted to see, met some fun people on the cruise, both inside and outside of the group. Reinforced that I’m better traveling on my own, which I know of course, but test every few years to see if I’m more tolerant (of what I won’t say) but I think as I mature, I care less what others think of me, and more about being true to myself. I keep my friends around me, and my enemies can go where they may, no worries. I have no time for gossip or slander, I don’t care who has money or who doesn’t, who buys expensive stuff or who doesn’t, whether I got ripped off or not as long as I am happy with my ride.
I am looking forward to parting ways with the herd and going on my little journey to Morrocco tomorrow. I feel like this part of my trip will be a exciting conclusion to these few weeks away, and that my artistic yearnings will be satisfied in this exotic place, if only for a few days. I hope that I haven’t bored anyone with the blog, but it really is a way for me to kind of try to capture the day to day activities, and upon reflection add the color that will make it come alive!
I’m going to try to add more in Marrakech, but won’t know how well or how expensive the internet situation will be , and if its bad will just write it out in word, and upload it at home. I hope no one suffered any physical damage during the earthquake, heard it shook things up. Of course CNN made it sound like San Diego broke off the state.